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A BOOK OF GOLDEN DEEDSBYCHARLOTTE M YONGE

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  • A BOOK OF GOLDEN DEEDSBY

    CHARLOTTE M YONGE

    An Electronic Classics Series Publication

  • A Book of Golden Deeds is a publication of The Electronic Classics Series. This Portable Document file isfurnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any pur-pose, and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither the Pennsylvania State University nor JimManis, Editor, nor anyone associated with the Pennsylvania State University assumes any responsibilityfor the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission, in any way.

    A Book of Golden Deeds, The Electronic Classics Series, Jim Manis, Editor, PSU-Hazleton, Hazleton, PA18202 is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing publication project to bring classicalworks of literature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them.

    Jim Manis is a faculty member of the English Department of The Pennsylvania State University. This pageand any preceding page(s) are restricted by copyright. The text of the following pages is not copyrightedwithin the United States; however, the fonts used may be.

    Cover Design: Jim Manis

    Copyright 2004 - 2014

    The Pennsylvania State University is an equal opportunity university.

  • 3Yonge

    A BOOK OFGOLDEN

    DEEDSBY

    CHARLOTTE M YONGE

    PREFPREFPREFPREFPREFAAAAACECECECECE

    AS THE MOST striking lines of poetry are the most hackneyed,

    because they have grown to be the common inheritance of

    all the world, so many of the most noble deeds that earth

    can show have become the best known, and enjoyed their

    full meed of fame. Therefore it may be feared that many of

    the events here detailed, or alluded to, may seem trite to

    those in search of novelty; but it is not for such that the

    collection has been made. It is rather intended as a treasury

    for young people, where they may find minuter particulars

    than their abridged histories usually afford of the soul-stir-

    ring deeds that give life and glory to the record of events;

    and where also other like actions, out of their ordinary course

    of reading, may be placed before them, in the trust that ex-

    ample may inspire the spirit of heroism and self-devotion. For

    surely it must be a wholesome contemplation to look on ac-

    tions, the very essence of which is such entire absorption in

    others that self is forgotten; the object of which is not to win

    promotion, wealth, or success, but simple duty, mercy, and

    loving-kindness. These are the actions wrought, hoping for

    nothing again, but which most surely have their reward.

    The authorities have not been given, as for the most [Page]

    part the narratives lie on the surface of history. For the de-

    scription of the Coliseum, I have, however, been indebted to

    the Abb Gerbets Rome Chrtienne; for the Housewives of

    Lowenburg, and St. Stephens Crown, to Freytags Sketches

    of German Life; and for the story of George the Triller, to

    Mr. Mayhews Germany. The Escape of Attalus is narrated

  • 4A Book of Golden Deeds

    (from Gregory of Tours) in Thierrys Lettres sur lHistoire

    de France; the Russian officers adventures, and those of

    Prascovia Lopouloff true Elisabeth of Siberia, are from M. le

    Maistre; the shipwrecks chiefly from Gillys Shipwrecks of

    the British Navy; the Jersey Powder Magazine from the

    Annual Registrer, and that at Ciudad Rodrigo, from the tra-

    ditions of the 52nd Regiment.

    There is a cloud of doubt resting on a few of the tales, which

    it may be honest to mention, though they were far too beauti-

    ful not to tell. These are the details of the Gallic occupation of

    Rome, the Legend of St. Genevieve, the Letter of Gertrude

    von der Wart, the stories of the Keys of Calais, of the Dragon

    of Rhodes, and we fear we must add, both Nelsons plan of the

    Battle of the Nile, and likewise the exact form of the heroism

    of young Casabianca, of which no two accounts agree. But it

    was not possible to give up such stories as these, and the thread

    of truth there must be in them has developed into such a beau-

    tiful tissue, that even if unsubstantial when tested, it is surely

    delightful to contemplate.

    Some stories have been passed over as too devoid of foun-

    dation, in especial that of young Henri, Duke of Nemours,

    who, at ten years old, was said to have been hung up with his

    little brother of eight in one of Louis XIs cages at Loches,

    with orders that two of the childrens teeth should daily be

    pulled out and brought to the king. The elder child was said

    to have insisted on giving the whole supply of teeth, so as to

    save his brother; but though they were certainly imprisoned

    after their fathers execution, they were released after Louiss

    death in a condition which disproves this atrocity.

    The Indian mutiny might likewise have supplied glorious

    instances of Christian self-devotion, but want of materials

    has compelled us to stop short of recording those noble deeds

    by which delicate women and light-hearted young soldiers

    showed, that in the hour of need there was not wanting to

    them the highest and deepest spirit of self-sacrifice.

    At some risk of prolixity, enough of the surrounding events

    has in general been given to make the situation comprehen-

    sible, even without knowledge of the general history. This

    has been done in the hope that these extracts may serve as a

    mothers storehouse for reading aloud to her boys, or that

    they may be found useful for short readings to the intelligent,

    though uneducated classes.

  • 5Yonge

    NONONONONOVEMBER 17, 1864.VEMBER 17, 1864.VEMBER 17, 1864.VEMBER 17, 1864.VEMBER 17, 1864.

    WHAWHAWHAWHAWHAT IS A GOLDEN DEED?T IS A GOLDEN DEED?T IS A GOLDEN DEED?T IS A GOLDEN DEED?T IS A GOLDEN DEED?

    WE ALL of us enjoy a story of battle and adventure. Some of

    us delight in the anxiety and excitement with which we watch

    the various strange predicaments, hairbreadth escapes, and

    ingenious contrivances that are presented to us; and the mere

    imaginary dread of the dangers thus depicted, stirs our feel-

    ings and makes us feel eager and full of suspense.

    This taste, though it is the first step above the dullness that

    cannot be interested in anything beyond its own immediate

    world, nor care for what it neither sees, touches, tastes, nor

    puts to any present use, is still the lowest form that such a

    liking can take. It may be no better than a love of reading

    about murders in the newspaper, just for the sake of a sort of

    startled sensation; and it is a taste that becomes unwhole-

    some when it absolutely delights in dwelling on horrors and

    cruelties for their own sake; or upon shifty, cunning, dis-

    honest stratagems and devices. To learn to take interest in

    what is evil is always mischievous.

    But there is an element in many of such scenes of woe and

    violence that may well account for our interest in them. It is

    that which makes the eye gleam and the heart throb, and

    bears us through the details of suffering, bloodshed, and even

    barbarityfeeling our spirits moved and elevated by con-

    templating the courage and endurance that they have called

    forth. Nay, such is the charm of brilliant valor, that we often

    are tempted to forget the injustice of the cause that may have

    called forth the actions that delight us. And this enthusiasm

    is often united with the utmost tenderness of heart, the very

    appreciation of suffering only quickening the sense of the

    heroism that risked the utmost, till the young and ardent

    learn absolutely to look upon danger as an occasion for evinc-

    ing the highest qualities.

    O Life, without thy chequerd scene Of right and wrong,

    of weal and woe, Success and failure, could a ground For

    magnanimity be found?

    The true cause of such enjoyment is perhaps an inherent

    consciousness that there is nothing so noble as forgetfulness

    of self. Therefore it is that we are struck by hearing of the

  • 6A Book of Golden Deeds

    exposure of life and limb to the utmost peril, in oblivion, or

    recklessness of personal safety, in comparison with a higher

    object.

    That object is sometimes unworthy. In the lowest form of

    courage it is only avoidance of disgrace; but even fear of shame

    is better than mere love of bodily ease, and from that lowest

    motive the scale rises to the most noble and precious actions

    of which human nature is capablethe truly golden and

    priceless deeds that are the jewels of history, the salt of life.

    And it is a chain of Golden Deeds that we seek to lay be-

    fore our readers; but, ere entering upon them, perhaps we

    had better clearly understand what it is that to our mind

    constitutes a Golden Deed.

    It is not mere hardihood. There was plenty of hardihood

    in Pizarro when he led his men through terrible hardships

    to attack the empire of Peru, but he was actuated by mere

    greediness for gain, and all the perils he so resolutely en-

    dured could not make his courage admirable. It was noth-

    ing but insensibility to danger, when set against the wealth

    and power that he coveted, and to which he sacrificed thou-

    sands of helpless Peruvians. Daring for the sake of plunder

    has been found in every robber, every pirate, and too often

    in all the lower grade of warriors, fro